Arsène Has It Easy & Demands United Performance Against City

“I had many opportunities to go somewhere else but I care for this club and its future.” 
“Me too, Arsène. Me too.”

That’s how the conversations about loyalty will be going from now on in the Arsenal boardroom. The Times this morning carries the claim that Ivan is a man in demand with, (takes deep breath) a whole raft of MSL clubs keen on his services, a belief that Gazidis could replace Sunil Gulati as the US Soccer Federation president, and, heading up the 2026 Pole Vaulting World Cup in the USA! USA! USA!, the place south of the Trump Wall and the place north of the Trudeau Wall.

Should we be careful what we wish for in this case as well? Heaven forbid we might get a CEO who can manage the manager. Not that it will happen, of course. It’s a cushy number for any executive or director at Arsenal so why give it up but you’ll probably find Stan will leave the appointment of Gazidis’ successor to Wenger.

Arsène doesn’t have time for such trivialities; he’s whipping the lads into shape ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City. This time though, he’s under less pressure than in 2014, which I understand to some extent. While the pressure from the stands is greater, against Hull we were looking to right the wrongs of the previous decade. A trophyless run was surely ending and Arsenal were overwhelming favourites to lift the Cup.

Tomorrow, City are favourites by whichever method you choose as a benchmark. Wenger may have the experience of semi-finals but Guardiola’s team are in better form. They are as fragile as us at times at the back and playing Giroud makes sense if the plan is to put their hapless ‘keeper under pressure.

United We Stand, Divided We’re Lumbered

Arsène demands that the players come together now and play their way out of the poor run of form. I guess the flipside of that is a battering tomorrow could send us spiralling into the Europa League play-offs, just as a time when Manchester United seem to be there for the taking.

However, Wenger is determined that the players will not give up easily:

“When you have negative results like we had it can divide or unite.

“At some stage you have to show you can fight together. Even if people will say it’s normal you win at Middlesbrough, when you go through a bad period it is difficult in your head to win everywhere.

“The best way to win is first to show that you can fight again. People questioned our fighting spirit, rightly so. We had to show again that we can fight together.

“You know as well when the team fights and doesn’t do well it creates even more uncertainty. The fact they did fight and did win had a positive impact.”

You can’t argue with what he says; Arsène always talks a good game.

Getting the players to deliver is another matter. The usual flakiness is appearing late season and that says something about the manager’s methods. Ian Wright Wright Wright laid it out in yesterday’s Arsecast that Wenger doesn’t tolerate shouting at the players and slaps down his assistants when they step over the line.

In a team of strong characters that works; the players sort themselves out. With the current squad of pleasant young men, ‘tearing them a new one’ as the quaint colloquialism goes, is what they need. If they don’t respond to it, they don’t have the motivation.

Which Wright suggested they lack due to the mollycoddling and cash they get from a young age.

Putting The Frighteners On Flash, Little Twerps

None of this generation – or those to come for that matter – will have it as hard as previous apprentices. Cleaning boots, sweeping terraces; they all have it done for them. Nowadays, it’s more important to assess a player’s character, to understand their motivation. Any manager who doesn’t understand what makes the individual tick, renders the player impotent when the going gets tough.

And tomorrow will be tough, no two ways about it.

In the past, I’d have fancied our chances of causing an upset in this situation but the defeats against Bayern, Chelsea and Liverpool chased the belief that we will win in big matches out of me. I’d love us to win the FA Cup; I’m of the generation which still has a romantic attachment to the trophy. It’s sheen may be dulled but there’s still something special about it.

The Premier League and the Champions League killed its importance as a major trophy to players but when we remember watching the ’79 final or Andy Linighan’s header thunder past Chris Woods, you can’t help but love the trophy. And seeing us outplay City and then either of Chelsea or Spurs? It would be fantastic. I just don’t expect it to happen.

That’s it for today unless you believe Arda Turan is in talks with the club or that Juventus want Szczesny. That’s an interesting thought. The Italian champions think he’s good enough for them, a team on the cusp of the Champions League final – and beating Monaco is no easy task – but at Arsenal, he wasn’t good enough. That speaks volumes about the coaching at Arsenal.

Let’s not even get into the practising set-pieces. I mean, really Mesut. Really?

’til Tomorrow.

134 thoughts on “Arsène Has It Easy & Demands United Performance Against City

  1. HenryB says:

    You’ve brought me back to reality, Andy/Orse, even watching the Spuds fans head for the Exits.

    I had hopes that we would spend big this summer, but I read recently that Kroenke/the NFL are being sued after all for moving his NFL Franchise to LA from St Louis. He won’t spend in case he loses??

    Sod that – I prefer to laugh at the Spuds! 🙂

  2. Orson Kaert says:

    HenryB,

    With luck he will have to sell out to Usmanov to pay the fine. We can only hope!

  3. C says:

    HenryB,

    I was trying to be nice and not the unknowing youth that the old timers fuss at 🙂

  4. Bill says:

    I think Chelsea winning today was a bad result for us. Both teams are better then we are but if we somehow get past Man City, our chances of winning the cup would have been better against Spurs rather then Chelsea. At least with Spurs there is a chance they might choke in the final but I don’t think there is any chance that could happen to Chelsea.

  5. Bill says:

    DFS

    Another possible reason that Arsene and the club have decided to wait for the end of the season to announce the new contract is they are still negotiating. For example, Arsene may want 3 years and $12M/year instead of 2 years and $10M/year. If Arsene can somehow nick a top 4 spot then the club will give him more years and/or more money. Arsene might have to settle for only 2 years and/or a bit less money if we are not in the CL next season.

    I think the idea that there could be any circumstances which would cause the club to replace Arsene next season are overly optimistic.

  6. Bill says:

    Perhaps I have discovered a pair of very strong rose colored glasses but I still think we have a chance to finish in the top 4. The Spurs away and Man U at home are tough games but Spurs have a habit of struggling in squeaky bum time and Man U just lost Ibra and Rojo to ACL tears and they will be focused on Europa league as their ticket to the CL. The rest of our run in does not look as daunting as it did with Stoke in very poor form. If Liverpool slip up it might come down to us needing a win in game 38 at home against Everton and they looked completely toothless away from home against West Ham today. The football gods have always looked favorably on Arsene and he has always been able to motivate his teams when the top 4 was in real danger. Stranger things have happened.

  7. drazy says:

    SOYS!!! = Sod Off You Spuds……Buahahahahah!!!!

  8. C says:

    Bill,

    You are really are wearing the rose tinted glasses, which just speaks to the strange situation going on in the Goonerverse. Top 4 is looking at best a stretch.

  9. andy1886 says:

    C,

    Bloody irritating that ‘top four’ is considered a success even if we do get there. It isn’t and it pisses me off when some people celebrate it like other big clubs celebrate a title. If Arsene does get to say “See, I made Top 4 again!” the answer should be “So What, this is Arsenal, not Spurs or Everton, pack your bags!!”.

  10. Tom says:

    @pistol fish
    ” what’s not to admire about the Spurs?”

    How about the fact they are a perennial chokers. They have lost seven FA cup semis on the trot.
    They choked last season in the league big time against Chelsea at the Bridge, and they choked today when Conte had thrown them a life line and spotted them 60 minutes free from Hazard/Costa duo.

    Both goals conceded from the free kick and the pen were typical choker goals and if Arsenal had conceded two goals like that, there would ve been an outcry for how unprofessional the players and the manager coaching them are.

    Spurs were the better side for most of the game and they scored two world class goals , but the way they conceded the first two was indicative of folding under the weight of the occasion.

  11. Wavey says:

    If we had lost like Spurs did today we would have been complaining about the lack of chances they had and questioning why some think that possession wins games. They looked like they controlled the game today, but they were never enough of a threat in the final third. Chelsea’s defence did their job well and Luiz was MOTM, but I didn’t think there were that many last ditch tackles. Chelsea were well organised and took their opportunities. You would expect a tight game from the top two teams in the league and that’s what we got until Hazard and Costa came on. Costa probably should have scored late on to really make the score line embarrassing. Loved Jenas getting the hump with Shearer after the game.

  12. andy1886 says:

    Wavey,

    They do seem to be following our well-trodden path don’t they? No big-game bottle, always the bridesmaid etc. Maybe they will even nick our top four trophy to leave Wenger crying into his Beaujolais? Ultimately though it doesn’t really matter, no-one cares who finished second, third or fourth. Unless you’re an accountant.

  13. buckagh says:

    C,

    C
    Belgium FA embarked on a root and branch of their football structures 10 or more years ago and we see the results now, had this conversation during the week I think there are 12 Belgian internationals playing in the PL, and others playing around top clubs in Europe, With an eye to the future why did Arsenal not secure any of this abundance of talent apart from Thomas Vermalen, its another indictment of club structures, aka Dick Law missing flight when Ozil was signed eventually

  14. Bill says:

    C

    This is going to be the toughest fight in the Emirates era. However, you can’t ignore the evidence from the last 13 years and you know that I have been optimistic about Arsene finishing in the top 4 every season in this decade so nothing has changed.

  15. Bill says:

    Andy @ 9:58

    In this century no team has won the league title with less 80 points. In the last 8 years we have averaged 73 points collected per season and this season we are on pace for 70 points. We have never been able to collect 80 points in any season in the last 9. The point is that we have not been able to collect enough points to win or even compete for the league title so the only way we can claim to have met expectations is to lower those expectations and make the top 4 into a trophy.

  16. Bill says:

    Andy

    The only thing you can control is how many points you can collect in the season and no other team can control how many we take. As long as take enough points to make the top 4 finishing in 2nd 3rd or 4th place is really irrelevant and depends on what the teams around you did.

    No doubt that the big money teams have made it harder to win the title then it was in the first half of Arsene’s reign but those teams have no control on how many points we can collect during the year and the fact that our points totals have been stagnant despite all of the money that we have spent in this decade is all the evidence you need to say that Arsene has probably taken us as far as he can.

  17. Raven says:

    Bill,

    Its not going to happen Bill. The run in is simply to tough and the confidence of the team is too shallow.
    MancC tomorrow is a very important game. Lose and they are back in the doldrums. Win and they gain additional confidence.

    Midweek Leicester at home depends very much on tomorrow. Leicester is trending upwards and have been since the change of the manager. They are now out of europe and can concentrate on a good run in of the season. Arsenal is at home ofc so there’s that. 50/50 due to home ground
    Week-end its Spuds away and as things are now it could very well be a big defeat. Its the NLD so its like a cup game for both teams meaning anything can happen. Trend says Spuds though. 65/35 Spuds
    Weekend after its MancU at home and Mou is pure cryptonite to Wenger. Much depend on how they respond to the Ibra injury. Arsenal at home, so a 50/50 game right now.
    Midweek after the MancU game its Southhampton at St Mary and we all know how well we have been doing down there in recent seasons. Southampton by 70/30.
    Weekend its SToke away and again its a place Arsenal doesnt do particularly well. Could easily be a loss and I have Stoke by 65/35.
    Sunderland at home. Only clear win in this row of games. Sunderland are just crap although Defoe is always a threat you have to account for. Still 85/15 Arsenal
    last game of the season is Everton. If Lukaku is on that day we lose. We have no defenders strong enough to deal with him. Still its a home so chances increase alot for a win. 55/45 Arsenal.

    This run in of the season depends gratly on tomorrow. Lose and things could come crashing down with the midweek game against Leicester. The team doesnt respond well after being kicked out of a cup.
    I think Arsenal get 7-10 points from the last games of the season if they lose tomorrow and 10-14 if they win

  18. DFS- says:

    Bill,

    It’s hard to posit any other scenario at this point isn’t it?

    I can sit here ’til blue in the face hoping the decision is on ice until the season plays out, that a new manager is an option, but the chances are this isn’t true. You are correct in that with so little of the season left an effective search/process cannot be put in place.

    A few months ago there were conversations on this board as to how this could have played out. The board/Wenger deal with matters (however it played) and an announcement should have been made mid-season he was leaving. That, at least, gives time for any incoming manager to assess the situation and for players to raise their game.

    What bugs the crap out of me there are now (just now) some key media parties that spout that line as if it is the new-found conventional wisdom with just weeks left in the season.

    You have always been correct in that the longer this went the more leverage Wenger has. That is why I think the tension between Wenger and Gazidis is real, but Wenger banks of the fact he has the actual power.

    By the by, I am with C in that it is easy to dismiss Gazidis but a little unfair, regardling a move to the MLS.

    Arsenal by any outside standard is well run and his position is of immense prestige from the US persective (virtually incomparable to any other individual). Gazidis could take any number of positions within the MLS and they would be better for it.

  19. DFS- says:

    Like Pistolfish and a few others I do not subscribe to the traditional hate of Spurs.

    The joy in todays semi-final was the two presently most admirable managers and teams in the PL duking it out at Wembley. I was happily, giddily conflicted.

    Spurs played the better game no doubt, but Conte has been around the block.

    There is a deeper texture, more facets to Chelsea’s motivation – but one aspect not really being underlined was that it was imperative to bounce back from the PL loss to United.

    I am sure Conte was reminding the team all week they could place that loss in the garbage can by putting their nearest rival to the sword in the FA Cup. I think its the kind of deep experience (manager and team) that Pochettino still have to learn.

    By a similar metric, I expect Pochettino will use this loss to motivate and keep his team in second place with strong end of season games- we shall see.

    As for the dislike/hatred/offense of both teams on this board…seems just a little contrived to me. Obviously we were all watching and engrossed because it was quality from start to finish, hence all the comments.

    Fantastic showcase for the FA Cup, period

  20. Bill says:

    Raven

    Everything you say is correct and I certainly would not bet any money on us finishing in the top 4. However, you just can’t ignore what has happened during the last 13 years and some of the other close calls that we have had and I am more optimistic about our chances then most. The trouble is that I really have mixed emotions about whether I want us to finish in 4th place. I honestly believe that missing the top 4 might actually be the best thing that could happen to us and could be a first step in shaking us out of this lethargy that the status quo has brought.

    DFS

    I agree with all of that. I just can’t imagine this board and ownership which has built its strategy around the inertia of the status quo actually making a managerial change at this point.

  21. C says:

    andy1886,

    Agree, I was never able to understand when people celebrated NOT winning the title, not sure when it became a thing but it shouldn’t have been and should never be. It should always be, “good we made top 4 to get into CL” but not celebrated.

  22. C says:

    buckagh,

    I mean when you think about the Belgian players even playing in the match today: Batshuyi, Hazard, Alderwield, Vertoghen, Courtious, Dembele. Then you think about Lukuka, Benteke on his day plus the pleathora of others and you have to say they should at minimum be runner-ups over the next 5-10 years but then you watch them and you just have this feeling that they won’t. The German revolution with their current crop including Ozil should be the model when it comes to developing a style and group of players and then letting them free.

  23. C says:

    Bill,

    True, you have to look at the past 13 years but then again we haven’t been this poor and there hasn’t been this many quality teams at once especially when you consider Everton being good and not looking likely to fall away.

  24. Bill says:

    C

    To say that we have not been this poor in the past is a bit of an overstatement. We are on pace for 70 points right now which would be just below our season average for the last 9 years. The reality is we are not that much worse then several other years in this decade. The difference is that in the past 70 points would be enough to be in the top 4 but this season there are 6 legitimate contenders for the top 4 spots and 70 points will probably only be good enough for 5th or 6th place.

  25. DFS- says:

    C,

    …and Andy

    But in essence it’s the perfect fall back position. It’s runner up with benefits, financial and prestige-wise.

    Only one team can win the PL so CL entry is a fillip. And from one perspective, I freely admit I would prefer to be in the CL than out.

    However, qualifying year in and out was something then passively wrapped in Wenger mythology. Kindly ask no questions and certainly shelve the audacity to demand more ambition.
    Before long its in the club DNA.

    You wonder when was the last time any player began a new season convinced they would win either the League or the Champions League that year? Or, more to the point, whether there was any need.

  26. C says:

    DFS-,

    I have no problem with making the CL year in and year out, my problem becomes when its celebration of making the top 4, coming 2nd (with the occassional topping the group) and then being knocked out not just by Bayern and Barca but Milan and Monaco. Yes only 1 team can win the PL and CL, but how many including little Leicester and even cashed strapped Monaco(they overspent then sold everybody remember) get better both with quality of player, style, etc.

    The fact that our manager recently said something about relegation is laughable and speaks to just how easy it is for Arsene to lower the bar and many Gooners accepting it.

    If I was a casual fan there is no way you would think Arsene not only managed the Invincibles but also has been in the job 20 years.

  27. Raven says:

    C,

    Belgium is a conondrum, but there is an explanation. Half the country is Vlams and the other half is Wallonians. 2 different languages and 2 different mentalities, and they do hate each other to some degree. So lots of powerstruggles, envy and shit which makes it a dysfunctional unit.
    Examplified by Courtois; Arrogant, highstrung and feeling far superior. A true wallonie. Aldervereild; equally highstrung, some inferiority complex ( power is assembled in Bruxelles, a wallonie city) but feeling they are the true Belgians. A true Vlamish.
    Shit, they didnt have a government for more than 2 years due mainly to the struggle between the Vlams and Wallonians.

  28. Damon says:

    Does anyone really care anymore? I mean, really???

    It’s just bollocks. He’s staying. It’s signed. Done and dusted. They’re all banking on some sort of corner being turned. Wenger always has before, so why would he doubt he will again. The board too.

    If he doesn’t, it can’t be any worse than it is now and they can bury it in the off season during a general election.

  29. MikeSA says:

    Damon,

    It’s been going on for years, the tactic of procrastination till it’s too late to do anything about it.

    It’s Wenger’s default mode and it’s become part of the club’s DNA.

    It’s always the same, wait till the end of the season, wait till the end of the August window, wait till the end of the January window, wait till next season, over and over and over and over ad infinitum.

    It’s why the Wenger lovers always try to push the “support the team till the end of the season” rubbish, it’s an attempt to block meaningful dissent until the off season where dissent will be shouted in an empty hall.

    It’s despicable behavior and should be told to fuck off in no uncertain terms at this stage, we’ve heard it all before and it’s as hollow as it gets by now.

    Yes, the Sack of Shit is going to stay unfortunately, but from now on non stop he needs to be told in no uncertain to terms to fuck off.

    He’s way overplayed any credit in terms of respect or loyalty because he’s lying about both at this stage.

    it’s about him and his ego, nothing to do with loyalty or love for the club anymore, that’s if it ever was.

  30. consolsbob says:

    That’s the tragedy, Damon.

    I don’t think that many of us do care anymore.

    I did enjoy the semi yesterday. Once upon a time I would have been hoping that both teams and their fans would fall hard. Yesterday though, it was the sheer sense of hope, expectation and excitement that both sets of fans shared that made me realise that we just don’t have that any more.

    Even the disappointment that the spurs fans suffered was something that we, with our lowered expectations, will suffer today if we lose.

    Sport should be bitter sweet, not bland.

  31. DFS- says:

    consolsbob,

    Agreed, my thoughts as well.

    It was great to feel fans, manager and players believing in each other.

    It would be unfair to say over the last so many years there have not been any such moments at Arsenal, there have been some brilliant games. The problem is they are infrequent.

    We have been faced with mediocrity and no clue as to what mentality or commitment the team will bring from one game to the next. It has been a multi-year erosion of faith in the club.

    It is absurd to presume for little reason fans have decided to turn on their own club.

  32. Jonny says:

    Meanwhile The Arsenal have managed 6 last 16 round exits in the CL…

    Tom:
    @pistol fish
    ” what’s not to admire about the Spurs?”

    How about the fact they are a perennial chokers. They have lost seven FA cup semis on the trot.
    They choked last season in the league big time againstChelsea at the Bridge, and they choked today when Conte had thrown them a life line and spotted them 60 minutes free from Hazard/Costa duo.

    Both goals conceded from the free kick and the pen were typical choker goals and if Arsenal had conceded two goals like that, there would ve been an outcry for how unprofessional the players and the manager coaching them are.

    Spurs were the better side for most of the game and they scored two world class goals , but the way they conceded the first two was indicative of folding under the weight of the occasion.

  33. DFS- says:

    Jonny,

    An Arsenal fan painstakingly attempting to color another team as ‘perennial chokers’. Gall and delusion in equal measures.

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